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Why your teen needs a few estate planning forms when they turn 18

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | estate planning

Your child just got accepted at their first-choice college. Likely, the last thing this makes you think about is estate planning. However, whether they’re staying fairly close to home at Vanderbilt or going thousands of miles away, there are some documents often associated with estate planning that they should have in place as they move away from home. 

In fact, just about every teen should have them once they turn 18 and are legally an adult.

Why do teens need an estate plan once they’re 18?

That’s when you’ll no longer have the legal right to make decisions about their medical care. If they’re in a car crash, for example, you have no legal right to do that without the proper documentation in place. Their health care providers won’t even be able to give you information about their condition because of the privacy provisions in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). You may not be able to legally handle any financial obligations for them, like communicating with their bank, student loan provider or credit card company, without explicit authorization.

That’s why it’s important for your child to have these documents in place once they turn 18 if you and they agree that in case of emergency, you need to be able to handle these things. A catastrophic accident or debilitating medical condition can happen to anyone. You just need to be prepared if it does.

What documents do they need?

With an advance directive for health care, your child can designate their care wishes for situations where they may be unable to speak for themselves. They can also designate you as their health care agent or give you durable power of attorney (POA) for health care. This gives you the right to get information about their condition and care and make decisions as needed. With a durable financial POA, you can make financial transactions and decisions if they can’t. 

These documents, when properly drawn up, are typically recognized by other states. It’s wise to talk to your teen about them and seek legal guidance to get them drawn up and in place before they turn 18.